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3d DCA Rules Change of Notice Period Was Not a ‘Modification’ of Timesharing Agreement in Miami Heat Star’s Child Custody Case

Basketball_through_hoop.jpgThe long-running and often contentious child custody dispute between pro basketball star Dwyane Wade and his ex-wife, Siohvaughn Funches, added a new chapter recently when the 3d District Court of Appeal issued a ruling upholding a timesharing decision made last year by a Miami-Dade trial judge. Although rejecting the mother’s appeal, the court warned lawyers on both sides regarding their behavior in email exchanges between the two sides. The case offers a reminder that, regardless of the amount of financial resources, child custody matters are often very emotional and hard-fought disputes.

Wade and his wife filed for divorce in 2007, which was finalized three years later after a long and arduous battle. During their marriage, the couple had two sons. In 2011, the father obtained a court order from a judge in Chicago granting him sole custody of both of the boys. The Illinois court’s custody ruling was domesticated to, and became enforceable in, Florida a year later.

Despite the fact that the couple’s timesharing agreement was extremely lengthy and detailed, problems arose last summer. The agreement called for the boys to spend alternating two-week blocks with each parent. The father’s lawyers approached counsel for the mother with a schedule, but the last of the mother’s blocks in Chicago would end on August 31, several days after the boys’ school year would have already begun back in Miami.

Unable to agree, the two sides ended up in court. The trial court, in establishing an exact schedule for the summer of 2014, also changed the advance written notice requirement period for setting up a timesharing itinerary. The mother challenged this, but did not prevail. The appeals court concluded that lengthening the advance written notice period did not amount to an impermissible modification of the existing timesharing agreement. Section 61.13(3) of the Florida Statutes requires proof of “a substantial, material, and unanticipated change in circumstances and a determination that the modification is in the best interests of the child” before a change in the parenting plan would be allowed. In this case, the trial court was merely managing the “procedural aspects and logistics of transportation of the children,” which is within the discretion of a trial court.

The appeals court also cautioned the parents’ attorneys regarding their email communications, which had become “abrasive and accusatory.” At one point, the mother’s attorneys accused the multimillionaire NBA player of refusing to pay for plane tickets solely out of spite and hatred for the mother.

Regardless of whether your family brings in a minimum-wage income or millions of dollars, child custody disputes can be extremely hostile, especially when an acrimonious divorce causes individuals to lose sight of the primary objective: meeting the best interests of the children. If you find yourself placed in the position of having to fight to defend your relationship with your children, it helps to have a skilled and determined legal team on your side. Talk to the South Florida family law attorneys of Sandy T. Fox, P.A., where our lawyers have years of experience helping families with challenges just like yours.

Contact us online or by calling (800) 596-0579 to schedule your confidential consultation.

More blog posts:

Failure to Foster Relationship with Child’s Father Not Grounds for Mandating Psych Evaluation of Mother, Fort Lauderdale Divorce Lawyer Blog, Aug. 19, 2014
Appeals Court Rules Against Dwyane Wade in Latest Round of Divorce and Custody Battle, Fort Lauderdale Divorce Lawyer Blog, Oct. 24, 2013